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Containers and LNG Result in Throughput Record for Port of Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam has set a new throughput record over the first six months of 2019. Total throughput amounted to 240.7 million tonnes, 3.4 per cent more than in the first six months of 2018. The big driver behind the new record were containers, but LNG transport also showed immense growth.

Container throughput rose by 4.8 per cent (in tonnes, +6.4 per cent in TEU) compared to the first six months of 2018, which is a new container throughput record. According to the port authority, that growth was mainly due to higher import and transhipment volumes.

LNG

Other positive highlights were in the crude oil (+2.8 per cent) and LNG (+94 per cent) market segments. The rise in crude oil was driven by more imports of cheaper oil from the United States. LNG benefited mainly from more exports of American gas to Europe. Falls were seen in the first half year in the mineral oil products (-5.8 per cent) and agribulk (-7.2 per cent) market segments.

Financial Results

The financial results of the Port of Rotterdam Authority were good in the first half of 2019. Revenue from port dues, and rental and leasehold income from issued land, increased slightly, leading to a rise in revenue of 4.0 per cent to 357.8 million euros, with liquid bulk making the largest contribution. Partly because operating expenses rose less than revenue, the result from ordinary activities before taxation improved by 7.0 per cent to 134.8 million euros.

Energy Transition

Over the past six months, significant progress has been made in the field of the energy transition. There has been considerable interest from the business community, for example, in participating in the Porthos project for the storage of CO2 in depleted gas fields under the North Sea. 

A feasibility study for H-Vision was also presented recently. H-Vision is the large-scale production and application in industrial processes of hydrogen produced in carbon-neutral ways. It is also known as 'blue hydrogen'. It will allow for a reduction in carbon emissions of between two and four megatonnes before 2030.

The Dutch government's proposed climate agreement, which was published in late June, will generate opportunities and threats. CEO Allard Castelein: 'The proposed cluster approach, and the focus on infrastructure and hydrogen, actually represent opportunities for industry in Rotterdam. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is eager to work on the details with the national government in the near future. However, we think it is very important for the introduction of a CO2 tax to be accompanied by the construction of the required physical infrastructure so that companies are given opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint. That is good for the business climate and competitive position of the Netherlands.'

Investments in Infrastructure

The level of investment in the first six months of 2019 remained high (177.1 million euros). The Port of Rotterdam Authority is actively collaborating on the enhancement of reliability in the logistics chain. The first pile was driven for the Container Exchange Route in May. The construction of the Theemsweg route, which involves rerouting a section of the port railway line, is on schedule.

Digitisation

Digitisation is also ongoing in the Port of Rotterdam. This is to enhance efficiency in the major trade routes, reduce costs and cut carbon emissions. The port of Gdansk has switched to Navigate, the route planner for shipping developed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority. In May, the sensor-equipped Container 42 left the port of Rotterdam for a two-year trip around the world. With the help of real-time information, waiting times can be reduced and berthing, loading, unloading and departure times can be optimised.

Outlook

Castelein: 'In the macroeconomic field, relations between the world's major trading blocs remain strained. There is also ongoing uncertainty about the introduction of trade tariffs post-Brexit. Both developments are rendering the prospects for the further growth of world trade uncertain. Given the global uncertainties mentioned here, the Port of Rotterdam Authority expects a slight weakening of the growth in cargo throughput in the second half of 2019.'

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.

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